Sisterakas is very much a movie of the now, and only of the now. While some films strive to be timeless, or at least to offer future generations a powerful vision of the present, Sisterakas only aims to exist in a very narrow timeframe, its humor derived entirely from references that will be all but forgotten a few months from now. From this shaky foundation, the film delivers a half-hearted plot with questionable execution. The talent of the cast is palpable, but there’s little else going on.
Once upon a time, Totoy and Bernadette (Vice Ganda and Ai Ai de Las Alas) were half-siblings living under the same roof. But Totoy and his mother were thrown out of the house once the affair came to light. Years later, Totoy, now known as Bernice, is a successful fashion magnate. Bernadette on the other hand is looking for a job. She applies for the position of Bernice's assistant, without realizing their connection. Bernice sees this as her chance to get revenge. He hires Bernadette, fully intending to make her life miserable. But his sister turns out to be made of hardy stuff, surviving all the trials. So much so, that Bernice’s rival Roselle (Kris Aquino) starts eying Bernadette.
One of the most repeated jokes in the movie involves a character named James who always replies to his name by saying “yup.” For those who don’t get it: James Yup. For those who don’t keep up with the life of Kris Aquino, James Yap is a basketball player who was once married to and had a son with Kris Aquino. Many of the film’s jokes follow this vein, referring to very specific real-world details about the stars. There is an entire scene where all three stars rattle off the taglines from their various endorsement deals. That is the entire joke.
I’m sure that if one is invested in the careers of the stars, one might find all of this funny. But anyone else will likely just be baffled. To be fair, the stars deliver every line with comedic gusto, as if every word was the funniest utterance a person could make. Vice Ganda may not be to everyone’s taste, but his timing is indomitable. Ai Ai de las Alas is leaning a little too hard on her loudness, but she’s funny all the same. Kris Aquino doesn’t have the same timing, but her willingness to look silly can be effective.
But all this talent is made to service unworthy material. The story has a few intriguing elements, but little is made of them. Plot threads are left dangling and everything is resolved a little too quickly. The direction is speedy, but there are quite a few technical hiccups. Most noticeable of these hiccups is the variable aspect ratio. The movie freely switches between having black bars on the sides and not, often in the same scene. It’s an egregious mistake, especially for a major studio release. If even the cheapest and the most amateurish of our movies can get this right, why can’t this one?
The answer will likely stem from the nature of the movie itself, and the festival it is part of. Sisterakas was likely rushed into existence, and so technical mistakes are made, and the script had to be cobbled together in an unreasonable time frame. Thus, we get the switching aspect ratio and the lazy jokes based on the stars of the picture. It only strives to exist during the festival duration, drawing in audiences with its combination of stars, the entire endeavor meant to be forgotten as regular life returns.